by Treve Ring | In my line of work I get to
drink taste a boatload of wines, many good, most average, a lot of plonk, and a slight few, awesome…
Greywacke Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc | 2012 | Marlborough, NZ | $40 | +198960
In wine, there are two, widely separate camps: those who love New Zealand’s sprightly, flavourful, jubilant, zesty and tropical sauvignon blanc, and those that loathe New Zealand’s aggressive, assertive, cats-piss-on-a-gooseberry-bush potent sauvignon blanc. I’ve met very few fence sitters; you’re either way in, or you’re far out.
If you’re in the latter camp, I reckon a glass of this Greywacke Wild Ferment will quickly turn into a bottle, and you’ll be convinced that NZ sauv is not the up-front tropical tart you envisioned her to be. This wine, so authentically handmade, goes beyond the grape to just express the region.
The region as interpreted and delivered by Kevin Judd, that is. Judd is one of Marlborough’s pioneer winemakers, intrinsically linked with the global profile of New Zealand wine and changing the wine fate of a nation during the first 25 vintages at the helm of Cloudy Bay. In 2009, he established his own label, Greywacke, named after New Zealand’s prolific bedrock.
Here, in his Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc, he allows Mother Nature to direct the show and do her thing. After a long, lingering, naturally occurring ferment (don’t rush Mother) this wine goes into large format older French barrels to build further complexity and engender contemplation. The result is a layered build of lanolin, subtle white florals, heady hay, wild herbs and earthy lees. The palate is bright with pear, green apple, white grapefruit, spring asparagus and sweet peas across fine grained, raspy spice. Mineral and stoniness throughout lend a distinctly savoury tone to this herbal hued, medium bodied white, one that will leave you reaching for the bottle to dive deeper into the beguiling complexities.
You’ve just thrown your backpack over the New Zealand sauv blanc fence and there’s no turning back.
Judd has developed a successful parallel career in photography, and his evocative images have appeared in countless publications over the past two decades. The Colour of Wine and The Landscape of New Zealand Wine are two stunning photographic essays on the vineyards of his thankful country.